Shall ye enter? – Me and AD&D

When I first started to play MMOs online, it was definitely what I thought was a progression from my regular table top games which I used to play. All of a sudden I was playing Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft trying to recreate the fun and interaction which I had experienced in the table top world of gaming. I soon had to accept that there was neither the depth or interaction which was original available in the RPGs which I played, but the online games had the advantage of being able to be played by myself, at any time of the day (or night) with little or no preparation. Eventually my figures, rules and floor plans were slowly packed away to be replaced with my mouse, monitor and keyboard. But recently I have been entering the world of RPGs once more and as I have been immersing myself once again in the games I used to play, I started to remember what I liked about so much…

I actually still remember the first RPG which I bought. While at grammar school, probably at about age 13/14, two older friends took me into town to buy the basic rule edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I had been saving up my money from my paper round and had a grand total of £10.00 and, with the Basic Rule Box set costing £8.50 I remember getting reprimanded by my mum afterwards saying that I was silly spending all my money before Christmas because she wasn’t going to give me any money to buy presents for my friends at school. I had always been the sort of lad growing up who had never found his niche, not being sporty or educationally bright, and suddenly, I had found something which I was literally mesmerised by. I read the rule book from front to back several times and made up so many characters and, before long, I was creating adventures and dungeons and inviting people round to play on the dining room table. My brother splashed out and bought the Players Handbook for the Advanced rules and I was literally captivated. With an old suitcase full of rules books, floor plans and figures, I was completely immersed into the world. But what do I really remember that I enjoyed?

  • Dungeons and Mapping – On one of my recent shopping trips I was in Smiths (formerly WH Smiths) browsing the folders and stationery when I suddenly spied something which took me straight back to my world of table top gaming. A pack of paper with squares on it! I remember buying packs of this paper, along with A4 paper, to create adventures with. When I say adventures, they were nothing more than a dungeon crawl, with the party venturing out from the local town to rid the inhabitants of the contents of the dungeon. There was very little thought put into each of the rooms, with bugbears living next door to goblins and the monsters never ever triggering the numerous traps within the corridors. In fact, I don’t think they ever left the rooms they were locked into. I once actually had an eight level dungeon. What this actually meant was that there were eight levels going down deeper and deeper into the ground. I don’t think anyone ever got past level one, but there was always that moment when you suddenly found the set of stairs which lead to the next level and you wondered whether you could actually survive down there. Mapping was so much fun with phrases like – “the corridor continues for forty foot and then in the next ten foot it turns east” and secret doors marked on the map with sideway ‘S’s. It was always interesting looking back on some of the rare maps I created as a player (rare because I was usually DMing (Dungeon Mastering)). There was no computers at this phase of my gaming and so everything was stored in folders and ring binders. I wonder whether I still have that eight level dungeon somewhere…

  • Parties and People – I’ve never been a party goer so when I say parties I am not talking about parties of the alcohol or balloon type. I have never had a huge group of friends and when I played AD&D few actually understood the game let alone played it with me. This meant that I had to create not only ‘stable’ of characters to play but a full group/party. When I went adventuring, I had a group of characters which I played as a party. It was just me and the DM or me as the DM and the player. I think my party was actually called the Magnificent Eight – but it was a long time ago. I remember it was led by a dwarven fighter called Thorin Oakenshield – and there was probably a magic-user in there called Merlin as well! I also remember a paladin – although I am not sure what his name was – I think it was my brother’s paladin which was called Palo! I also had a phase of really liking multi-classed characters – a cleric/fighter/magic-user and a fighter/magic-user/thief. I’m sure the latter was somewhat of an expert with a two handed sword! I do remember starting a RPG group off, and the campaign lasted for some time, with the players growing up with their characters. When I headed off to university I was excited to actually find some people who played RPGs including a new dungeon master which meant I could actually start to play! – I always liked playing the magic-user and remember that my character in that first uni campaign had an orb with continual darkness cast on it which I used to keep hidden under a velvet cloth! Those were also the days of arrows being fired into combat with Silence 15′ radius on them! Apart from my brother, I haven’t kept in touch with any of the people from those role playing days – which is somewhat a shame – I guess everyone grew up and moved away. That’s one of the good things about role playing games, the campaign always remains for the next group of players to venture forth into it.

  • Figures, Games and Fanzines – As well as spending many weekends making up adventures, characters or just reading rule books, Dungeons and Dragons provided a wealth of other activities which allowed me to keep myself occupied. I was always one of those people who were constantly bored growing up and it was only after finding D&D that I found myself with so much to actually do. I actually created my own figure painting business – charging 20-50p per figure. I often used to take over the dining room table and sit drinking Earl Grey tea, painting figures under a bright table lamp. I also started my own magazine based on D&D. It was called Animate Dead – yes I do still have a copy somewhere. It was actually produced on a typewriter using several layers of carbon paper to duplicate the pages for the number of copies which were ordered. I think it cost 20p each copy and included new magical items, character focuses, a story which I wrote every week and even adverts from people! It was never a money maker but I did use the profits for more paper and paints. And finally there were the other games that blossomed from the initial D&D box set. Middle Earth matured into Role Master, Super powers were used in Golden Heroes and we all got completely spooked while playing Call of Cthulhu! It certainly gave me plenty to do and, I must admit, I enjoyed every moment of it!

  • Looking back on ‘those days’ I was certainly very busy and I am not actually sure whether or not I effectively managed the demands of school work alongside my game playing. I did however, really enjoy immersing myself within the game and interacting with the people I met both in and out of the campaigns. As I start to engage with Dungeons and Dragons and Shadowrun once again on my Twitch Stream – I am really enjoying reminiscing about the games of the past with fellow streamers and viewers and, as I start to create new adventures and campaigns, re living those moments of bravery, heroism and often foolhardiness. And to think, this all started from a £8.50 box bought on a cold winter’s evening, many years ago…

    What do you remember from your role playing games? Are you a seasoned player like myself or someone new and just starting to experience everything? If you would like to share your thoughts, comments or even ideas then please do by adding them in the comment box below. It is really easy to register for the site and you can instantly start to progress with your Waffling badges!

    So it only remains for me to say, have fun guys and I’ll catch you all later and, until then, consider yourself waffled!

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